Partner with other agencies like the Lexington Public Library to create a public outreach opportunity that provides decision-makers with input and creates neighborhood leaders across all demographics and geographies.
In 2017, as part of a partnership with the Blue Grass Community Foundation, Leadership Lexington, Fayette County Public Schools, and many other organizations, the Division of Planning sought input into this Imagine Lexington plan with On the Table. This innovative outreach tool changed the dynamic of civic engagement for Lexington and leveraged powerful partnerships to hear from active citizens who were hungry for both food and meaningful conversation. It provided an accessible way for people to gather informally over a meal to discuss Lexington’s positive attributes and issues, as well as bold ideas and solutions to make it an even better place.
Initially, this initiative had a stretch goal of engaging 5,000 people to participate; that goal was not only surpassed, but more than doubled, with over 11,000 people contributing. The roughly 10,000 comments that resulted from the input-gathering tools employed by the Division of Planning through this and other methods were synthesized into a Public Input Report (See APPENDIX C) that served as a key component to inform this plan. This public outreach initiative engaged far more people than previous comprehensive plan efforts,which typically brought out a couple hundred individuals. Perhaps equally significant is the diverse representation On the Table contributed. The Division of Planning heard from a much more varied group of people representing a host of viewpoints that are perhaps not always heard in civic engagement. This was only possible through the partnerships that strengthened the effort.
To build on this momentum, Imagine Lexington calls for a more permanent and ongoing way to connect the general public to decision-makers. By utilizing partnerships to create a citizen advisory panel, this plan hopes to achieve the following goals:
Ensure input is heard from voices that are representative of the city at large, and not only highly-organized interests;
- Develop future neighborhood leaders;
- Improve the level of civic discourse;
- Offer educational opportunities so input is informed and not solely emotional.
In order to achieve these goals, the panel will be randomly selected across all demographics and geographies to serve lengthy terms as advisors to the Division of Planning and the Planning Commission. They will provide ongoing input into planning implementation items and decisions, and will be educated on current process and best practice. This will be a productive environment to discuss and test future process and outreach improvements, and a valuable tool to consistently provide ongoing public input throughout the implementation of Imagine Lexington.
- Create a Citizen Advisory Panel.